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RV Boondocking vs. RV Campgrounds

Full-Time RVing With A Plan B

We’ve mentioned it more than a few times in our blogs. When you live full time in your RV, you’ve got to be flexible, and you’ve got to have a plan B. If you’re boondocking, a plan B and even a plan C isn’t a bad idea. There was a stretch of about 6 months straight where every single time we arrived at our plan A destination, something prevented us from staying. It became a joke between us. Comments like “why even have a plan A since we know we’ll end up at Plan B” were often overheard in our RV. Some of the causes were weather, road construction causing closures, and the government shutdowns just to name a few. 

You can read how we spent $48 in camping fees in 2018 here!

Life is About Chapters

In 2018 we boondocked our way across the USA. We spent a total of $48 in camping fees for the entire year. You can read our blog about it below.

Boondocking – How we spent $48 in Camping Fees For The Whole Year of 2018

We were determined to show everyone it really can be done in a big rig. There were some sacrifices along the way and we skipped a few things we might have stopped to see had there been boondocking nearby. We had been told by so many people that we’d never be able to boondock full time in a big rig. And if we did, we’d spend most of our time in Walmart parking lots, rest areas and truck stops. We knew we could do it differently. We wanted a beautiful lakeside or amazing mountain views. And we got them! We did it! 

With all the above being said, 2019 we were on a little bit of a different path. Boondocking is still (and always will be) the preferred method of our Full-Time RV life. But flexibility and Plan B is the key. 2019 brought the purchase a few inexpensive memberships to help us boondock still, but also gave us another choice in inexpensive camping.

Boondockers Welcome

Priceless! The best of boondocking, and meeting new people. This small yearly membership allows you to stay on private land that the owners have opened up for us. Usually between 2 and 5 nights. Sometimes they have hookup’s and sometimes it’s just land. You can make a reservation and talk to the land owners straight through the Boondocks Welcome website

Passport America

We love Passport America. There are a lot more restrictions than we originally thought, but we saved more than the annual membership in less than a week of staying in campgrounds. Currently, their membership is only $44 per year. And you receive half-off every single campground in their list. Which isn’t just a few! There is quite a bit of them all scattered throughout the USA. Well worth the small annual cost. Tip: Hop into a campground for half price for a night to dump and fill vs. paying for a dump fee. Last year we were trying to find a place to dump our tanks and get water. The local campground was charging $10 to dump, which is very typical. But if we stayed all night, hooked up to power and water it was only $12.50 with our Passport America discount. Kind of a no-brainer on which one we chose. If you use our affiliate code, it gives you an extra 6 months on your initial membership!! Plus, gives us an extra $10. C-742152. Thank you!

2020 Brings A New Chapter

As 2020 approaches – yep! More changes. The most incredible, wonderful, beautiful kind of changes in our opinions.  We are going to become grandparents for the first time. And, we are both completely in love with a child we haven’t met yet! We are so excited we can hardly stand it. With our oldest daughter becoming a mom, we quickly realized that traveling to and staying on the east coast would be challenging. Yes, we found some amazing boondocking locations on the east coast, but they are very limited and completely non-existent in many areas. If you need a specific area, sometimes that can be more challenging to find boondocking. Weather is challenging on the east coast, both in summer and in winter.  Monthly campground fees have skyrocketed in the last few years, and the cheapest monthly campground fees we could find were still ridiculous, and astronomical. Plus, they still charged electric use. We can supplement since we have solar, but needless to say, still way out of our price range. So again, plan B comes into play. With a lot of research, we decided to become a Thousand Trails member. We will boondock every single chance we get. Campgrounds are not where we want to spend our time. They are overcrowded, loud, and drinking coffee in the morning overlooking a lake vs. the neighbors slide is much more appealing. But what we do want is to have the freedom to be grandparents. Supporting our daughters, being involved with our grandkids, and watching our kids become parents is and always will be our number one joys. Chapters, right? This is our new chapter. Traveling to the east coast, and being close enough to the kids even for a few months at a time is important to us. And that isn’t feasible spending $1,000 a month in campground fees. Especially since we’ve planned for me (Stacy) to fly back to the east coast at least once in-between our driving there. I’d rather spend $500 on a plane ticket, then I would $1,000 a month a campground. Just makes sense for us. 

Why Thousand Trails?

Thousand Trails is definitely a membership we highly recommend. In fact, you can almost say we did the research for you. Ha! I may have researched this to death! I joined groups, read the endless rules/contracts they have, and talked to many people who have the membership, and ones that didn’t renew memberships for various reasons. The relentless questions were asked. No matter which plan you choose in Thousand Trails, you can’t go wrong. If you plan to be on the east or west coast, Thousand Trails can be such an asset. It’s a lifetime membership, with a small annual renewal. But you can stay 2-3 weeks in campgrounds for free, and depending on the membership, go from campground to campground always staying free. No strings! I promise! If you’re interested in Thousand Trails and have some questions, please click here, to see our Thousand Trails page. We make it easy for you to get a quote on exactly what you need.

Yes! You may say it’s expensive, but not if you really break it down. When you’re looking to spend a few months in a campground that is costing $1,000 a month, you start to look at things differently. For the cost of this membership, we have to spend 3 months in a campground. Not 3 months a year. Just three months to re-coop our money back. Give or take depending on the cost of each individual campground. Still, completely worth it in our situation. 

Final Thoughts

So in the end, this full-time RV life is about chapters, flexibility, and definitely about Plan B ~ no matter what type of overnight camping you choose. One isn’t more right over the other. Everyone has different needs, different agendas, and different goals. And every one of those changes from time to time. Sometimes it’s becoming new grandparents that can give you a whole new perspective on your Plan B. But it’s an amazing Plan B.

Our opinions are just that. They are raw and they are honest. We hope you use our codes above to secure your own membership if you decided to go that way. If you don’t use ours, use someones! Pay it forward! You pay no more by using our code. And either way, we thank you! Truly and honestly, thank you!! Whether you’re just here to read another blog post, or you decide to reach out and purchase one of the memberships, you are appreciated! We wouldn’t want to be on this journey without each and every one of you. Your support, encouragement, and love is appreciated more than you know. 

And don’t worry … we’ll still share all our epic boondocking locations with you all. That is still our preferred method of travel and always will be. But just fair warning, you might be seeing a lot of baby pictures coming across our feed in the near future. 

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

2 thoughts on “RV Boondocking vs. RV Campgrounds”

  1. Congratulations!!! Grandparenting is the best! We’ve been spending a lot of time on the east coast and it can be quite expensive, not as expensive as California, but still pricey. We love our Passport America and have stayed in some beautiful campgrounds with it. Best of luck to your daughter!

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